Sridevi, on her comeback plans
By Udita Jhunjhunwala
12th September 2012 03:09 PM
Fifteen years after she last acted in a movie, and 25 years since the evergreen ‘Mr India’, Sridevi makes a return to the big screen in the Hindi film, ‘English Vinglish’. The movie, which sees her as a housewife struggling to learn English, is from debutant director Gauri Shinde and her husband, adman-turned-filmmaker, R Balki.
Born and raised in Tamil Nadu, Sridevi began her career at the age of five, and is now the mother of two daughters – Jhanvi (15) and Khushi (almost 12). She talks about her first day on the sets this time around, meeting expectations, her favourite co-stars and more.
What convinced you to return to acting in movies after such a long hiatus and what, in particular, about 'English Vinglish' appealed to you?
The character of Shashi really touched my heart. I could really relate to her and I thought the audience would be able to relate to the simplicity honesty, and innocence of her character as a housewife and mother. I didn’t do a movie earlier because I felt that if I was going away from my children and house, I would only do it if I enjoyed it. And that is how I felt about ‘English Vinglish’. Nothing that came my way in the past years did that. So it’s also a compliment to director Gauri. She was very clear and approachable and made my life very easy.
Were you nervous on the first day back on set?
Not at all! I didn’t feel like there was
a gap of 15 years. It was like I had shot day before yesterday, taken a break
for a day and was back on the set. I have grown up in the studios. My only
worry was how my children would cope up, and they did very well, thanks to my
husband, Boneyji, who stood by me and babysat.
Are you planning other films too?
It depends on what kind of script I get. It should excite me in the same way that ‘English Vinglish’ did. Most importantly, I should not feel awkward to show my films to my children or my husband. I am very clear with what I want, what I am able to do and what is comfortable for me. Those who approach me should also be clear about what I will be comfortable with. I would like to do more films in the South where I started my career. Chennai is my hometown and I always feel secure there. Tamil films are superb now, often made with newcomers and technically advanced.
Do you like what Bollywood has to offer?
We watch movies together at the cinema, as a family. I saw ‘The Dirty Picture’, ‘Kahaani’ and ‘Vicky Donor’ recently and really enjoyed them.
Do you feel the burden of expectations that come from your fan following and earlier work?
Yes, and it should be there. That makes me responsible and I hope and pray that I don’t disappoint my fans because whatever I am is because of them. I hope they like this film.
Looking back, which of your own films are you most proud of?
There are some films that stand out and gave me a good opportunity. ‘Moondram Pirai’ (‘Sadma’), ‘Mr India’, ‘Nagina’, ‘Lamhe’, ‘Chandni’ and ‘Chalbaaz’ are films that are very dear to my heart.
What do you do to unwind and keep fit?
I love sports, especially playing tennis with my daughters. I also love swimming. I go to the gym, do yoga and walk a lot. We travel often. I usually exercise for two days and then am travelling for four days. I love travelling, especially to London, Paris, Delhi and Madras. In order to unwind, I just like to be myself in my room. At that time, I don’t want to do anything, not even answer a phone call. I like to be quiet and listen to music. I love all Tamil music and my husband and I both enjoy old Hindi film music. I also love to paint.
What role does painting play in your life?
It is my hobby. Whatever I have painted so far I have given as gifts to my friends or the paintings are hanging in my house. All the paintings in this room are by me. The one of Michael Jackson upstairs I did for my daughter. I like oil paintings but it takes time, sometimes months. I started painting when I was acting. After shooting, I would paint. I don’t have any training. Then when I started helping my daughters in school, the teachers encouraged me. I used to go to school to teach painting. It’s very calming. I feel such a high before starting a painting and it feels so good when it comes out right.
Do you miss anything about Chennai?
I miss Pongal and Maatu Pongal. I miss sugarcane, which I am crazy about. I am very proud to be South Indian and have great memories of being brought up in Madras. I still have a home there. Madras has changed a lot though – it’s become very happening.
Looking back, any regrets?
Look, in order to get something you have to lose something. You can’t have everything in life. So I am happy with what I got. I lost out on going to school, college and college life but I got into the film industry and worked without a gap – from child actor I went straight to heroine. There was no time to think and I was grateful for it.
What if your daughters want to act?
Why not? After all, whatever little achievement I have is from this industry, but right now I want them to study. Once they finish their studies, we will see what is in their minds. However, I do hope that my daughters don’t have to give up anything: they should get everything.
‘English Vinglish’ will premier at the Toronto International Film Festival on
September 14 and is scheduled to release in India on October 5.
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